Does Florida, known for its storm threats, ever shake from earthquakes?

From New Hampshire to New Zealand, several earthquakes have rattled the globe over the last 48 hours.

The sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere creates seismic waves, causing the shaking of the surface of the Earth. Multiple regions across the world experience this natural phenomenon on a frequent basis.

But how likely is it for an earthquake to shake up Florida, a state that's no stranger to experiencing natural disasters?

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Can Florida get earthquakes?

Despite not making a huge impact on history, earthquakes have been recorded in Florida as far back as 1879.

According to experts, earthquakes in Florida are extremely rare since the state is not located near any tectonic plate boundaries. The closest fault line to Florida runs through the Caribbean Sea, just north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and south of Cuba toward Guatemala.

However, the sunshine state isn't completely free from feeling any sort of earthquake from time to time, they're just not as strong.

When was Florida's last earthquake?

Back in September 2020, the United States Geological Survey recorded a 3.8 magnitude earthquake right on the Florida/Alabama line at the north end of Santa Rosa County.

An image from the U.S. Geological Survey shows where a 4.0-magnitude earthquake rocked northern Santa Rosa County on Thursday, Sept. 3.
An image from the U.S. Geological Survey shows where a 4.0-magnitude earthquake rocked northern Santa Rosa County on Thursday, Sept. 3.

It was the first earthquake felt in the area since a series of tremors rocked the area the year before, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Nine earthquakes hit near the Florida-Alabama line in far north Escambia and Santa Rosa counties between March 7 and April 14, 2019.

What was the state's largest earthquake?

Technically there are two answers depending on whether you count earthquakes within the Gulf of Mexico or only count those over the actual peninsula.

In 1879, the largest recorded earthquake in Florida measured in at a 4.4 magnitude on the border of Putnam and Marion County in North Central Florida. This is the only earthquake recorded over the peninsula on the USGS database.

However, a larger 6.0 earthquake coming from a depth of 6.2 miles in the Gulf of Mexico rocked southwest Florida in 2006. It was Cape Coral’s first and it reportedly swayed some of the taller buildings on the Cape.

How does Florida compare to other states?

When it comes to the number of earthquakes, Florida joins North Dakota as the state with the fewest earthquakes per year.

As for the top of the charts, the Insurance Information Institute shows that Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Washington take up the top five states for earthquakes. Alaska alone accounts for 57% of all earthquakes in the United States due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and the way it connects the Pacific and North American plates.

Where are the worst earthquakes in history?

Experts use seismographic networks to measure earthquakes by their magnitude, energy release, and intensity. Over the years, here are the worst recorded earthquakes in history:

  • The 2012 Indian Ocean earthquakes - 8.6

  • Assam-Tibet Earthquake (1950) – 8.6

  • Rat Islands Earthquake (1965) – 8.7

  • Ecuador-Colombia Earthquake (1906) – 8.8

  • Maule (Chile) Earthquake (2010) – 8.8

  • Kamchatka, Russia Earthquake (1952) – 9.0

  • Tōhoku Earthquake (2011) – 9.1

  • Sumatra Earthquake (2004)– 9.1

  • Great Alaska Earthquake (1964) – 9.2

  • Valdivia Earthquake (1960) – 9.5

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Florida sees hurricanes, wildfires, tornados. What about earthquakes?